‘Avatar 2’ Will Use Underwater Performance Capture
Once again, James Cameron will pioneer new filmmaking technologies in one of his movies. As his sequels to Avatar promise to spend time deep in Pandora’s oceans, Cameron and his crew will now utilize their groundbreaking performance capture technology underwater, according to producer Jon Landau.
“We have kept a team of digital artists on from Avatar in order to test how we can create performance capture underwater,” Landau said during a keynote presentation at the NAB Technology Summit on Cinema, held Sunday. “We could simulate water [in computer graphics], but we can’t simulate the actor’s experience, so we are going to capture performance in a tank.” So stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana may be strapping on pairs of flippers with their motion capture leotards.
Cameron, Landau and their team are seeking to continue pushing the envelope with the Avatar sequels, so shooting in 3D is a must for them. “[Conversion] will never be a comparable choice to native 3D shooting,” said Landau. “As good as conversion can get, it’s two and three quarters 3D and never true 3D.”
They are also contemplating using the high frame rate (HFR) technology that was employed on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. “We want to take advantage of the technology that people are putting out there to make the next two movies more engaging and visually tantalizing, and wrap up the story arc of our two main characters. What Peter Jackson presented, is what Peter Jackson wanted to present,” Landau said. “Audiences went to The Hobbit expecting the same tone as the Lord of the Rings films, but The Hobbit is a different film with a different story and a different tone, and Peter Jackson made absolutely the right creative choice [in shooting 48fps] for him and should be respected for that.”
So Avatar 2 will combine Cameron’s ambitious filmmaking style with his love of the ocean. Since making The Abyss in 1989, Cameron has filmed the underwater documentaries Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep, and personally been down to the wreckage of the real Titanic multiple times. Last year, he took a dive to the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point on the Earth’s ocean floor, and shot some footage, though Landau denied that had anything to do with the Avatar sequels.
Given the impressive ecosystem that was created for the world above water on Pandora, diving into that world’s oceans could be a real visual treat.
If things improve in the story department, it will be that much better.